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Hello from aspiring animal novelist!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Mbwamwitu, 6 Sep 2018.

  1. Mbwamwitu

    Mbwamwitu Active Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Mumbai, India
    I'm a lifelong animal nut from India with roots in East Africa, although I've been living in DC for the past few years. Growing up, I was a bit of an anti-captivity absolutist (despite playing too many hours of ZT2), but that has changed as I've grown and learned the real ways of the zoo world. I spent most of last year as a Policy Fellow with WCS's team in DC. Discovered I could do a lot more for wildlife by supporting WCS/AZA programs than yelling at people outside Mumbai Zoo (which, btw, sucks).

    Lurking these forums (especially the National Zoo thread) made me want to bite the bullet and join! I run or photo-walk through the National Zoo at least twice a month... I'm leaving DC forever in 15 days, but I will hopefully be able to check out some of India's better zoos once I move there.

    Also: I've been working on a novel idea on the low for the past few years, and it's starting to take real form! I have written an obscene 300,000+ words which I'm now editing and revising down to a more manageable manuscript.

    It's all animal-centric, with a leopard, tiger, wolf and sloth bear as the main characters. If that sounds a lot like The Jungle Book, it should - my book is a modern Indian conservation-centric, slightly sci-fi, fantasy-flavored riff on Kipling's classic.

    Every now and then I find myself in need of reference/help with obscure animal situations that are near impossible to research, e.g. how would two wolves and a striped hyena transport the corpse of an Asiatic lion across a river? How much human machinery could a sloth bear operate with its tongue and lips? What would it look like if a leopard tried to imitate the fighting style of a wolf? Etc.

    Zookeepers are awesome - I ask them these and some significantly stranger questions, and they're always willing to brainstorm and debate and discuss. Most of the time, I stroll over to the National Zoo and ask the staff there in person. So I figured, why not seek the wisdom of the online zoo community once in a while too? :)

    Thanks, and glad I've risen from my lurker status to accept full posting powers! I shall wield them with care. BTW, some zoos I've visited:

    - Mumbai Zoo (through my childhood in the early 90's; miserable experiences, and things are only a little bit better now. If you're in India, take your business to Mysore, Nandankanan or Delhi instead.)

    - Smithsonian National Zoo (holler if you want to go and need company anytime in the next 14 days!)

    - Uganda Wildlife Education Center (in 2009; I have vague memories of joining a birding group in the area but we strolled into the park for a bit - I remember bushpig, servals, shoebill and white rhinos.)

    I've also spent a considerable amount of time in wild protected areas in India and Uganda. Some of the rarer mammals I've seen include aardvark, caracal, striped hyena, giant forest hog, dhole, honey badger and the Indian subspecies of gray wolf. I love Carnivora!
     
    Jambo, vogelcommando, m30t and 4 others like this.
  2. Daktari JG

    Daktari JG Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    United States
    welcome
     
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    We don't have any regularly active members from India, so you will be a great addition! Also glad you learned to take a balanced approach when it comes to captivity. Perhaps you will have opportunities over the years to inform people who have the anti stance that you once had. Coming from "their side" I think gives you a lot of credibility in the debate.
     
  4. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Welcome!
     
  5. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to Zoochat. Your work as a WCS fellow sounds very interesting, as does your novel and your travels through the wild areas of India and Uganda.

    Are you optimistic about the long-term viability of wild spaces in India, especially for the big animals like the large carnivores (tigers, dholes, etc.), elephants, and rhinos?
     
  6. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Heist-op-den-Berg, Flanders
    Welcome to Zoochat, Mbwamwitu.

    I'm glad to hear that you are one of the sadly few anti-captivity people who have had the audacity to truly examine and evaluate their position and to change their position based on new information. I applaud your for that and if you want to tell us more we will certainly read with interest.

    Your conservation work, novel writing and wildlife travels also sound very interesting and I think we wouldn't mind hearing more about those around here. Also, having read some about the plight of wildlife in India recently I think it would be interesting to hear perspectives on that from someone who knows that country.
     
  7. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Brampton, Ontario, Canada
    Welcome to ZooChat!
     
  8. Mbwamwitu

    Mbwamwitu Active Member

    Joined:
    6 Sep 2018
    Posts:
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    Location:
    Mumbai, India
    Thank you everyone for the warm welcome! I'm shamefully late to responding here but I was caught up in the madness of moving back to India from the US. Now that I'm (somewhat) settled in Mumbai, I'm looking forward to getting involved here.

    Big thanks to all of you! Also, Daktari JG, do you speak Swahili?

    I do hope :) WCS was a huge influence in that regard. Looking forward to learning more on here, especially in the areas where I'm still a bit conflicted (them cetaceans).

    Thanks for the welcomes! I've just moved back, and will be more in touch with the Indian scene with time. Glad to find y'all interested in discussing the wildlife story here.

    Short answer: cautiously optimistic.



    {Note from mods - the remainder of this post has been split to its own thread: Wildlife Conservation in India}
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 16 Oct 2018
  9. Daktari JG

    Daktari JG Well-Known Member

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    LOL no. Daktari was a 60s TV show about a veterinarian in Africa.
    I speak a little Spanish and some passable English
     
  10. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Rather belatedly: Welcome to Zoochat. You have an interesting life history and hope you can share your experience in zoos and wildlife with us.

    Agreed 100% what you said on Mumbai Zoo. It needs to stick to local fauna and upgrade standards before delving into exotics - a frequent mistake by local zoo management -. I have my thoughts on this and have at times posted on them. I know a fair bit about what goes on in Indian zoos unreported here and it be nice to dive back in and share info.
     
  11. Mbwamwitu

    Mbwamwitu Active Member

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    Location:
    Mumbai, India
    Belated thanks! :)

    I'm going to try and go down to Mumbai Zoo one of these days, now that I'm back here. I'll report back on how things are going. Cool to hear that you follow the Indian zoo situation - looking fwd to hear and learn more from you!
     
  12. Neva

    Neva Member

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    Location:
    Zawsze w drodze
    Hi! :)

    I'm also new one but also would like to say hello! And the title was very intriguing. I'm also writer-enthustiast and your vision sounds interesting and original for me!
    And about Carnivora - do you prefer small carnivorans like small cats, linsangs etc or these "bigger" ones like Panthera? ;)
     
  13. Mbwamwitu

    Mbwamwitu Active Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Mumbai, India
    That's awesome! Looking forward to maybe hearing what zoo/wildlife-based ideas you've got up your sleeve.

    My first and foremost love is big canids and hyenas. African wild dogs are the objective best mammal species on earth and anyone who wants to challenge that can come fight me :p

    But between "small" and "big" in general, I'd have to go with small. Love the mongooses, civets and mustelids (otters, tayra, yellow-throated/Nilgiri martens), and the caracal is imo the coolest species of cat. Fossa is the #1 mammal I want to see most right now. I see you're a small cat enthusiast... I'll agree that they're heavily underrated in zoos and wildlife parks! There's a bunch of cool species around where I am right now, including rusty spotted, leopard, fishing and jungle cats. Still to see any of them XD
     
  14. Neva

    Neva Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Zawsze w drodze
    In past I was writing a 'book' about cats' family with describing species and their life in short stories, e.g. leopard vs herd of baboons or incredible hunt of caracal - and it has evolved until now ;) I like to see the world in a metaphor also.

    Haha, african wild dog was my first love, but now I absolutely love dholes; so yes, I can challenge that :p

    Such a great passion! I think that small carnivores are underestimated like small cats in zoos. By the way, it's sad that a lot of species are in their extinction in Europe and hope this will change (ahh... maybe Magdeburg one day brings back to Europe black-footed cats...).
    I always was rather on the feliformia-side and I've been into linsangs, civets (large indian civet!) and others. Nilgiri marten's amazing species... and I've learnt about it from you! (So I want to thank you for this conversation, it's great to know more about world of zoology!

    Hope that you see fossa soon! :)